The world's largest operational offshore wind farm will officially open on Thursday.
Located in the Irish Sea, the Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm has a total capacity of 659 megawatts and is capable of powering nearly 600,000 homes in the U.K, Danish energy business Orsted said Thursday.
The scale of the facility, Orsted's eleventh operational offshore wind farm in the U.K., is considerable. It has 87 turbines - 47 MHI Vestas turbines and 40 Siemens Gamesa turbines - and covers an area equal to around 20,000 soccer pitches. Orsted owns 50 percent of the project, with Danish pension funds PFA and PKA owning 25 percent each.
"The U.K. is the global leader in offshore wind and Walney Extension showcases the industry's incredible success story," Matthew Wright, Orsted U.K. managing director, said in a statement. "The project, completed on time and within budget, also marks another important step towards Orsted's vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy," Wright added.
Europe is a major player in the offshore wind sector and home to more than 4,000 offshore wind turbines across 11 countries, according to trade body WindEurope. Thirteen new offshore wind farms were completed in 2017, including the planet's first floating offshore wind farm. The U.K. installed 1.7 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind in 2017, while Germany was responsible for 1.3 GW.
The Walney Extension was welcomed by the U.K.'s Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry. "Record-breaking engineering landmarks like this huge offshore wind farm help us consolidate our global leadership position, break records for generating renewable energy, and create thousands of high quality jobs," she said.